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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Bullock

How to make a tough request

This straightforward approach can help you get what you want.

As a leader, you often have to ask someone for something they aren't keen on giving. Maybe you're asking your board for more time to complete a project or you need your team to work at the weekend.

Your capacity to communicate can set you apart from other leaders. When faced with the dilemma of asking a 'tough question' without damaging a relationship with others, I've found these simple steps highly effective:

1. Begin with the essential information

Your primary goal is to identify the key facts. Then, communicate these concisely, highlighting the most crucial information. This will help you to express exactly what you want your board, staff or others to take away.

For example: "We just held a board meeting and reached an agreement on the new plan."

2. Describe how those facts make you feel

Small elements like this help to refine your overall concept. What's more, relaying emotion in a subtle way strengthens the core message.

For example: "I'm delighted yet scared, particularly when it comes to our new market entry."

Make sure this is clear and precise, so you don't have to say more than necessary.

3. Align those feelings to your current requirements

This brings emotion and facts together, which makes for a clear, meaningful message.

For example: "At present, I need to dedicate time to the team, and I need your help as a Board member while I to make this difficult program work."

4. Specify the desired outcome

This step offers the other person a chance to be part of the solution you're proposing.

For example: "I'm hoping to get your approval on my business plan so that we have 12 months of funding to enable us to launch our new product."

5. Recommend the next step

This enables the other person to suggest alternative solutions.

For example: "Do you have 15 minutes to go over the high-level assumptions and offer your feedback?"

Remember, excellent communication is about more than what you say; it is also about what others hear.

TAKEAWAY: There are a few things to keep in mind when using this approach. Responsible leadership is about relating to others while developing a relationship with yourself. This allows you to interact more directly and manage requests more effectively.


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